Since scoring Billy T and Chapman Tripp comedy awards as half of duo Sugar & Spice (alongside Jonathan Brugh), Jason Hoyte has applied his talents to comedy, drama and voiceover work. Often cast as the smooth-talking but dodgy man in a suit (Shortland Street, taxman tale We're Here to Help), Hoyte stole the screen in school satire Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby, as dodgy guidance counsellor Steve Mudgeway.
Jason played the vain, treacherous, shallow Steve so blindingly well I said to Danny (Mulheron) when he had gone that it was almost unfair to audition anyone else ... Tom Scott, on auditions for Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby
Described by co-star Neill Rea as the "little show that could", The Brokenwood Mysteries has screened in over 15 countries and and involved a long run of fictional murders. Each feature-length episode of this Prime TV crime drama is a standalone murder mystery, set in a small Kiwi town. Neill Rea (Scarfies) stars as veteran detective Mike Shepherd, who works alongside Detective Kristin Sims (played by Fern Sutherland from The Almighty Johnsons). Backing up the pair are Detective Sam Breen (Nic Sampson from Funny Girls) and Russian pathologist Gina Kadinsky (Cristina Ionda).
Nothing Trivial was a dramedy that kept score on the lives and loves of five friends in a pub quiz team called Sex on a Stick. The cast of City Lifers shifted to the suburbs and nearing middle age was led by Shane Cortese, Tandi Wright, Nicole Whippy, Debbie Newby-Ward and Blair Strang. Created by Rachel Lang and Gavin Strawhan, (the veteran writers behind Go Girls, Maddigan’s Quest, and Mercy Peak) the popular South Pacific Pictures production screened for three seasons on TV ONE. A fan-driven campaign saw NZ On Air fund a tele-movie to wrap up the series.
This long-running series tails working dogs and their handlers, who are helping protect New Zealand’s streets, borders, prisons and national parks. This opening episode of the second season sees dog squad member Dan "come a cropper", while chasing thieves; one prison visitor leaves with an unusual gift from inside (while other visitors are worried about their drugs from the night before); and Auckland Airport sniffer dogs snuff out some unwanted imports. Dog Squad's first two seasons were produced by Cream Media, shortly before the company was taken over by Greenstone TV.
The Insatiable Moon is the tale of a man with nothing but wisdom, joy and possibly a direct line to God. Arthur (Rawiri Paratene) wanders the streets of Ponsonby, where he finds perfection (Sara Wiseman) just as his community of boarding house friends faces threat. Producer Mike Riddell first wrote The Insatiable Moon as a 1997 novel, inspired by people he met while he was a clergyman in Ponsonby. The film’s extended development almost saw it made in England with Timothy Spall - before finally coming home, “on half a shoestring and a heap of passion”.
Host and MC Brendhan Lovegrove goes behind the scenes of Pro Night at The Classic Comedy Club in Auckland, in this first episode of this accomplished mockumentary series. Irene Pink, Andre King and Ben Hurley are the evening's performers. Backstage, barely concealed jealousies and rivalries simmer in a less than salubrious green room. Meanwhile, Brendon Pongia, from TVNZ's Good Morning show, is in the audience and pulses quicken at the prospect of an off-peak network TV interview. No-one is safe and beware for moments of excruciating viewing.
This long-running reality series, made for TVNZ, follows the lives of dogs and their handlers: "fighting crime, saving lives", and helping protect New Zealand’s streets and borders. The very first episode sees the dog squad diffuse a street brawl in Manurewa, nab a runner from a crashed stolen car, and bust a visitor trying to smuggle contraband into Waikeria Prison in the Waikato. Plus avalanche rescue dogs are trained at Mt Hutt ski resort. This first Dog Squad series was produced by Cream Media (the company was taken over by Greenstone TV in 2010).
TV personality Jaquie Brown plays (and plays up) herself for delightful comic effect in this hit TV3 satire. Former Campbell Live reporter Brown plays an egomaniacal journalist looking to climb the media ladder any which way she can. Auckland's aspirational set: a cast of Metro social page alumni and wannabes, are skewered with self-referential glee. The second series was retitled for DVD release as The Jaquie Brown Odyssey; both series won acclaim and Best Comedy gongs at the Qantas Film and TV Awards. The Listener gushed: "A local sitcom that doesn't suck."
Rolling out their Christmas Special in June, to show just how far they're ahead of the game, the Moon TV team threw most of their regulars into this wrap-up special: dodgy driving on Speedo Cops, Naan Doctors (a soap set in an Indian restaurant) and Leigh Hart's regular attempt to sound literary with writer Joe Bennett. Elsewhere Hart and Matai Johnson cheat during the annual coast to coast race, and join Jason Hoyte to demonstrate how not to treat a guest when John Key joins them on Late Night Big Breakfast. Plus pratfalls from an incompetent handyman.
For their fourth series, the intrepid Moon TV crew set out to tour New Zealand in mobile broadcast vans. The backbone of this episode is a roadside interview with All Black Richie McCaw, who takes in stride a dodgy satellite dish and questions from a viewer about swallowing the contents of a lava lamp. Elsewhere there are appearances by show regulars Hamsterman (who does a strange dance) and Speedo Cops (dealing to a dangerous runaway trolley) — plus a Dragon's Den take-off, in which a potential financier is impressed by a vacuum cleaner refitted to make coffee.
Created by superhero fan Stephen J Campbell, this light-hearted adventure series follows teen Ben Wilson (Carl Dixon) who discovers his father and grandad have done time as superheroes. Still getting to grips with the basics of being one himself, Ben enlists family and friends to help fight assorted villians. The show ran for three seasons, and spawned web series The Wired Chronicles and Origins. Nominated for awards in Rome and New Zealand, it picked up one in Korea. The eclectic cast included the tried (David McPhail) and the new (Hannah Marshall from Packed to the Rafters).
Christchurch property developer Dave Henderson experienced bankruptcy, accusations of fraud, and 25 plus tax audits. This Kafkaesque comedy is based on his best-selling book about a five-year battle with the tax department, over a $924,000 bill. Kiwi/Scot actor Erik Thomson returned from Australia to play Henderson, while a near-unrecognisable Michael Hurst cameos as MP Rodney Hide. Lumiere reviewer Simon Sweetman praised the “superb” casting, and Thomson’s playful performance. The film is adapted and directed by screen vet Jonothan Cullinane.
Teacher Mr Gormsby believes in brutal honesty - and that the education system has gone all namby-pamby. In desperation, a dysfunctional low-decile school employs him.director/co-creator Danny Mulheron was inspired partly by an old school teacher who wore a military beret, and has irreverent fun with the archaic antics of Mr Gormsby. The Dominion Post compared Gormsby to Fred Dagg and Lyn of Tawa; The Sydney Morning Herald found it "darkly funny". Running two seasons, it was nominated for Best Script and Best Comedy in the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby was a sharp-witted comedy about an appallingly politically incorrect relief teacher. In this episode, the irreverent Mr Gormsby (artfully played by David McPhail) is the unlikely candidate to teach a Human Relationships class. Later, a used condom is discovered in the wharenui and Gormsby's powers of deduction lead him to the culprit. The "darkly funny" comedy (Sydney Morning Herald) was partly based on a former teacher of director Danny Mulheron and was nominated for Best Script and Best Comedy at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
After her husband is jailed, matriarch Cheryl West (Robyn Malcolm) decides the time has come to set her family on the straight and narrow. But can the Wests change old habits? So begins the six-series long saga of the Westie dynasty. Hugely popular at home (beloved by public, critics and awards-nights alike), and imitated overseas, Outrageous Fortune has been a flag-bearer for TV3 and contemporary NZ telly drama; the series proved — in all its grow-your-own glory — that genre TV in NZ could be so much more than overseas stories pasted to a local setting.
Director Danny Mulheron has fun with the subversive character of Mr Gormsby in this irreverently funny series. In desperation, the Tepapawai High School principal has hired paragon of old school values Mr Gormsby (David McPhail) after yet another relief teacher walks out. Forming an instant dislike for fellow teacher 'Steve from Guidance' and frustrated that his trusty cane has been taken from him, Gormsby comes up a unique form of discipline which manages to offend pretty much everyone. Nominated for Best Script and Best Comedy at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
This animated series stars a shed of friendly machines who live on Murray and Heather’s farm near Kumara Cove. In this episode Beaut the Ute goes through a midlife crisis when he meets a younger ute — Flash — in town, and worries his time might be over. But the machines soon learn that a slick new number plate isn't everything. The colour palette of this animated series makes it clear that the machines are the characters that matter. The show is narrated by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In), who created it with Brent Chambers.
Made for TV2, The Adventures of Massey Ferguson aims to show children what life is like outside the big cities. In this episode the little farm near Kumara Cove — to a red tractor named Massey Ferguson, and his farm vehicle friends —has dried up in the summer heat. It is up to Massey to track down some water, with a little help from Gracie the quad bike and Beaut the Ute. Despite suggestions that it might be worth trying a Native American rain dance or water divining, Massey opts to set out and find the water himself. The fate of the farm rests on his wheels.
Screening on TVNZ, this animated series for young kids follows the adventures of Massey the farm tractor and his machine mates on Murray and Heather’s farm. In this episode from the first series Massey gets distracted en route to fencing by Slo Mo, an uppity mobility scooter who doesn’t like collecting eggs. When the chicks follow Slo Mo to the shed — where no animals are allowed — the gang come up with a plan, and a cunning disguise for Slo Mo. The series is narrated by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In), who created it with Brent Chambers of Flux Animation.
With character names befitting an episode of Country Calendar, there’s something distinctly Kiwi about this animated children's show. This episode sees Murray the farmer take his friendly tractor Massey Ferguson out to the swamp for duck-hunting season. But things go awry when Massey backfires, scaring the ducks away. Back at the farm, Massey and his farm vehicle friends have to solve the problem. The culprit 's apology leads to another opportunity for Kiwi flavour. The apology: “Sorry mate”.
This animated series for young Kiwis follows plucky Massey Ferguson the tractor, and other farm machine characters on Murray and Heather’s farm. This second episode is set in the height of summer. Murray’s new smoke alarm wakes the machines in the shed, and Rusty the clapped-out old car has to be helped outside by his friends. But when the fire engine is called back for a real fire, we learn that Rusty has a secret. The series was created by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In) and Brent Chambers from Flux Animation; Mora also narrates.
This animated series for Kiwi kids follows Massey Ferguson, the red tractor who lives with his farm equipment family on Murray and Heather’s farm. In this 12th instalment, Murray takes his boat Lazy Daisy out to the Harbour to defend his title in the annual fishing contest. Murray has hooked a big one but when competition appears in the form of a rude four-wheel drive, it’s up to Massey to save the day. The series was created by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In) and Brent Chambers from Flux Animation; Mora also narrates.
In this animated show whose main stars are talking tractors and farm vehicles, the latest news down on the farm is that Gracie the Quad Bike is due for a check up at the garage. Only she doesn't want to go. Gracie has been talking with old Rusty, who believes that once your mechanical problems have been found out, you end up stuck in the shed. It's up to Massey Ferguson to save the day once again, by helping persuade Gracie there's no reason to be scared of the doctor.
This animated series for young children revolves around a little red tractor who talks, and all of his farm machine friends. In this episode Massey and his mates prepare for a hangi and a party, after a hard night of rain. The next day Massey notices that one of the stones in the hangi pity is shining. Could it be gold? Aimed at teaching pre-school children about life beyond New Zealand's cities, The Adventures of Massey Ferguson was created by RNZ broadcaster Jim Mora and animation veteran Brent Chambers.
This animated kids series revolves around Massey Ferguson the tractor and other farm machines, who live near the town of Kumara Cove. The icon of Kiwi farming uses his rural wits to solve farm challenges. The series is narrated by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In) who created it with Brent Chambers. In this episode the arrival of ‘Scrapper’ the scrap metal truck puts the fear up Jen the generator. But it’s revenge of the farm machines, when Jen proves her worth after a power cut.
This animated series for young Kiwis visits Ferguson farm, to hang out with Massey Ferguson the talking tractor, and some of his mechanical friends (Massey Fergusons are an icon of Kiwi farming; Sir Edmund Hillary even took them to the South Pole). In this first episode, Murray loses his wedding ring. Massey Ferguson suspects magpies are the culprit, and with the aid of his friend Sallycopter, helps Murray become lord of the ring once more. The series was created by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In) and Brent Chambers from company Flux Animation.
This animated series for kids follows the rural adventures of Massey the farm tractor and his machine mates. In this 10th episode of the first series Massey almost gets taken out by a rogue truck and then discovers a baaaaad problem: the sheep have gone missing from Murray and Heather’s farm. Massey sets off to solve the mystery of the sheep rustling, and a distinctive bleat provides a vital clue on the trail. The series is narrated by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In), who created it with Brent Chambers of Flux Animation.
This animated series for young kids stars Massey Ferguson the tractor. He and his farm machine friends take on country life using their DIY wits. In this fifth episode, Massey and the machines head to the beach after a stormy night on the farm. There they meet a depressed boat who has got stranded, and Massey uses his powerful 'tractor factor' save the day. (Massey Fergusons are an icon of Kiwi farming; Sir Edmund Hillary even took them to the South Pole). The series is narrated by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In), who created it with Brent Chambers.
When Beaut the Ute breaks down on the day Murray and Heather are supposed to be attending a wedding, the couple have to travel with none other than Massey Ferguson, the plucky red tractor. Things take a dramatic turn when, enroute to the ceremony, they come across the bride’s car stuck in a ditch! With the clock ticking down until the church doors close and the bride running late, Massey must think fast to prevent a catastrophic marital mishap. The series, aimed at Kiwi kids, is narrated by Jim Mora (Mucking In).
Debuting in 2002, Moon TV parodied talk shows, soaps and almost every type of reality television, occasionally leaving viewers wondering if they were watching truth or take off. Created by Leigh Hart — aka That Guy on SportsCafe — it mixed written and improvised material, roadtesting sketches which later spawned their own series, including talk show Late Night Big Breakfast and Leigh Hart's Mysterious Planet. Nominated twice for Best Comedy Programme, Moon TV 's sketches included a regular book slot featuring writer Joe Bennett, a medical spoof and Hamsterman from Amsterdam.
Described as a "Māori Twilight Zone", Mataku was a series of half-hour dramatic narratives steeped in Māori experience with the "unexplained". Two South Pacific Pictures-produced series screened on TV3; a later series screened on TV One in 2005. Each episode was introduced by Temuera Morrison Rod Serling-style. The bi-lingual series was a strong international and domestic success; producer Carey Carter: "Our people are very spiritual ... and here we are ... turning it into stories so that the rest of the world can get a glimpse of that aspect of our culture."
This documentary follows a 2001 Neil Finn tour of his bottom-of-the-world homeland. Finn challenged his perfectionist instincts by playing with a changing local line-up at each gig: mostly unknown fans offered a chance to “glisten like a pearl”. The performers ranged from veterans to teen guitarist-singer Jon Hume (four years away from the Australian Top 20 with band Evermore). In Dunedin the performance survives drinking rituals and uninvited stage guests; in another moment, a shy 14-year-old piano prodigy segues from Mozart into Split Enz classic 'I Got You'.
This black comedy sees Kiwi blokes Barry (Tim Gordon) and Kev (Jason Hoyte) set off into the sunrise for a day’s fishing. The ‘men alone’ glories of Godzone in a runabout are disrupted when they discover their attitudes towards domestic violence and sexuality are at odds. Director Adam Stevens adapted the story from a scene in Atrocities, a play written by Hoyte and Jonathon Brugh (aka Sugar and Spice). In 2001 Beautiful went to the New York, Melbourne and Montreal film festivals, before screening at Sundance; it won Best Short Film at the 2003 NZ Film Awards.
Over four seasons, Street Legal’s slick Kiwi take on urban crime and law genres racked up a stack of award nominations - including a 2003 NZ TV Award for best drama series. Although initially wary that the Auckland setting might alienate viewers, writer Greg McGee chose a Samoan lawyer (Jay Laga’aia) as his main character, to exploit the show’s inner-city Ponsonby setting (where cafe society bumps into Pacific Island immigrant culture). Other key characters included Silesi’s lawyer ex-girlfriend Joni, and her new partner Kees, an overstressed sergeant.
This comedy series followed the daily life of an 1800s Māori chief (Pio Terei) and his interactions with other Māori and newly-arrived Pākehā settlers. Nothing was sacred as a subject for satire, from disease to English gold lust. Created by Ray Lillis (Pio!), the series features Rachel House (Whale Rider), Jason Hoyte (Late Night Big Breakfast), William Davis (Belief) and Jonathan Brugh (What We Do in the Shadows). Guests included Dalvanius and Charles Mesure. It was produced by Terei’s Pipi Productions for TVNZ over two seasons; Terei had shifted from TV3 after his series Pio! in 1999.
This turn of the century comedy series follows the daily life of fictional colonial Māori chief Te Tutu (Pio Terei). In the first episode, 'Welcome', it’s 1838 and Te Tutu meets a shipload of newly-arrived New Zealand Company settlers. Ngāti Pati elders debate whether or not to eat them. Tama (Dalvanius) wants to, but Te Tutu pushes for the vegetarian option by outlining the threat of Pākehā diseases to Māori private parts. The boys can’t decide but when Tama’s wife arrives everything is ka pai, and the kōrero turns to real estate. The script is by series creator Ray Lillis.
This turn of the century comedy series was a satirical look at colonial life through the eyes of moderately hapless Māori chief Te Tutu (Pio Terei). Complications from over-fishing of kai moana (seafood) are the main plot spurs of this second episode. Meanwhile a newcomer to Aotearoa – Herrick's brother, an English army toff played by Charles Mesure (Desperate Housewives, This is Not My Life) – attracts the attention of Hine Toa (Rachel House), and hatches an evil plan (‘MAF’: Murder All Fishes). Meanwhile the patronising Vole continues his campaign of colonisation.
This turn of the century comedy series is a satirical look at colonial life through the eyes of Māori chief Te Tutu (Pio Terei). In this third episode, Te Tutu interrogates efforts by the settlers to mine for gold, and has designs on Vole's stove. Objects of ridicule include Pākehā and Māori cuisine; settler lust for “a useless, worthless, dangerous, coloured stone”; and patronising colonialism: “what’s the story with those beads and blankets? Haven’t they got any cash?” Meanwhile hangi pits are causing a spate of injuries. Michael Saccente has a guest role as an American miner.
Religion is the subject of this fourth episode of the series satirising colonial relations between Māori and Pākehā. Chief Te Tutu (Pio Terei) is disturbed by the bells ringing from the new church being built by settler Henry Vole, and goes to investigate. He finds a tohunga dressed like a tui. Te Tutu’s interpretation of the scripture leads to complications. Meanwhile Mrs Vole (Emma Lange) continues to do all the work while the Pākehā blokes chinwag. John Leigh (Sparky in Outrageous Fortune) guest stars as an Anglican minister under pressure from Vole to spice up his sermons.
In the tradition of Billy T's 'first encounter' skits, this series used satire to examine pre-Treaty of Waitangi relations between tangata whenua and Pākehā settlers. The topic of this fifth episode is health. After Te Tutu (Pio Terei) wakes with a bad back, his daughter Hine Toa (Rachel House) suggests trying out some alternative medicine: Pākehā bedding. Newly arrived Nurse Veruca (a cameo from Susan Brady) clashes with comical tohunga Tu Meke (William Davis) and stirs up symptoms in Henry Vole. Terei has commented that the show's take-no-prisoners humour was ahead of its time.
This topic of the sixth episode of this Māori/Pākehā satire is 'war'. Irish Colonel North (played by veteran actor Ian Mune) and his British Army soldiers arrive, on their way north to fight Hōne Heke — provoking chief Te Tutu (Pio Terei) and Ngāti Pati into action. Te Tutu’s warmongering with the settlers includes mooning, flagpole-felling and insulting Mr Vole's long-suffering wife (Emma Lange). When the signals aren’t picked up, a stolen rooster gets things moving. A fierce haka is answered by a traditional English song: 'Old Macdonald had a farm'.
The final episode of the first season of this colonial comedy tackles the Treaty, as settler Henry Vole argues that his land (purchased off a bloke he met at a bar in Tauranga) is fairly his. The pros and cons of a treaty are debated: “where all Māori may benefit from the administration that gave us the 18 hour working day for children”. Te Tutu counters with a Martin Luther King dream: “where the English are not marginalised in Aotearoa simply because they are a minority … where the English language won’t be lost because we’ll have Pākehā language nests …”
Tamatoa the Brave Warrior follows the adventures of a young Māori adventurer and his talkative pals Moko (the tuatara), Manu (the moa) and Kereru (the kereru). In this episode Tamatoa's chances of entering the great river race look dim after Aunty Hana forces him to guard the kumara patch instead. Tamatoa reluctantly obeys, and finds himself caught up battling some crazed pukeko who want to use the kumara as a rugby ball. There may still be time to race... The series of ten minute episodes was created by the prolific Flux Animation Studios.
This animated series follows the adventures of Tamatoa, his cousin Moana and their animal mates Manu the moa, Moko the tuatara and Kereru the kereru. In this episode Tamatoa sets out with Moko and Kereru after his uncle tells him about an island where the pipi grow "as big as flax bushes", and the kina are bigger than his appetite. They arrive in search of giant kaimoana and stumble upon an army of giant hermit crabs ... it seems Tamatoa may have bitten off more than he can chew. Set in pre-colonial times, the series was made by Auckland company Flux Animation.
In this episode, the pint-sized Tamatoa sets off to rescue his talkative friend Moko the tuatara (Jason Hoyte), after Moko goes on an accidental kite journey and ends up in a swamp that is home to a brightly-coloured taniwha. Tamatoa has been warned that if he meets the taniwha, having a gift ready might help things along. The swamp is a place of many surprises: some of them with teeth, some with smiles. The light-hearted, colourfully-animated show was created by Kiwi company Flux Animation Studios.
Pulp Comedy succeeded the talent quest A Bit After Ten as a TV outlet for stand-up comics. Its origins lay in Auckland's Comedyfest which was established to capitalise on the city's burgeoning early 90s stand-up scene. Showcases at the Powerstation led to a request from TV3 for a television series. Produced by Mandy Toogood and Simon Sinclair, it ran for eight years and provided national exposure for novices as well as leading lights like Mike King, Ewen Gilmour, Flight of the Conchords, Michele A'Court, Brendhan Lovegrove, Philip Patston and Cal Wilson.
This film records the devising of a “work in progress” by theatre director Ashley Thorndyke (Jason Hoyte). The concept — by Duncan Sarkies (Two Little Boys, Scarfies) — mocks the gamut of thesp and drama school cliches: from ‘wanky’ director to wacky warm-up exercises (animal impersonations, primal screams, Love Boat theme song). Peter Burger, fresh out of Broadcasting School, co-directs, and the willing cast is drawn from the 90s Wellington theatre scene orbiting around Bats and Victoria University. Future Conchord Jemaine Clement memorably learns to get loose.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.